Where wisdom ends, God begins. (You can say amen to that!) …the truth is we do NOT have control of our lives, our lives are shaped by circumstances, our personalities, our sins and bad judgments, world events, if we could control our own world we would always have success, wealth, happiness and a long life… the plans we make always bow to the foot of a changing world. Where wisdom ends, God begins. When we at last understand the world is out of our control is when God…
I can still feel the sense of peace as I was falling down a crevassed on top of Mt. Baker in the late 70s, having no idea where the bottom was, knowing I could easily never make it out. The situation was so dramatic there was nothing I could do. Much harder a few years ago when Esther was on a youth retreat, it was snowing in the passes, and we got a call she was in an ambulance on her way to Ellensburg because she was hit by a trailer that swung into her… I did not like the helplessness. Out of control…
Ever been at your wits end? Literally, run out of wisdom. Here’s a mother writing about her daughter that many people can relate (from an online forum): "My daughter is 3.5 yrs old, very smart and very opinionated & stubborn. We've been trying to get her to eat "real food" for a while now. She completely refuses. Of all things she'll try (which i know is good) is broccoli. She'll take little bites. Fine. But when we tell her to take little bites of chicken or pasta, she throws a complete tantrum. We've sent her to bed and nap without lunch and/or dinner a few times. I don't know what else to do. All we're asking is for her to taste it; not forcing her to eat a bunch. I'm worried she's not getting enough nutritious foods for her development. Any suggestions? Things you've tried? I even tried what Supernanny suggested ... not allowing them to leave the table until they take a bite... she sat there all afternoon!!! Stubborn as all get up"
One person responds: “I know exactly how you feel....I have twin boys and they won't eat anything but fries and chicken nuggets from McDonald's....And I get really tired of cooking food that they ask for and then not eating it....I also have no clue what to do and I'm at my wits end.”
Today we turn the diamond a quarter turn…another angle of faith. Last week the confidence faith of the Centurion, this week the angle of faith of the widow where it is all God, the widow is completely helpless, Jesus sees her, “his heart went out to her” and he raises her son from the dead. Faith is found in all four of these stories found in Luke 7: faith is confidence in God that we see in the Centurion, faith is found in the complete dependency on God as shown by the widow, faith in God does not mean there is not doubt and questions as shown by John the Baptist, and faith is needed because we are sinners and unworthy as shown by the sinful woman in the last story. Four angles of faith, each part of the whole for the complete picture of faith….
Today a widow, who has lost her son. Part of the point of the story is that what Jesus does is so otherworldly that it is impossible for us to accomplish in our strength/ ability. I cannot raise the dead! I cannot give life. It’s all God. This is a rich part of faith is at once frustrating and liberating. Frustrating because we seek to be independent, liberating because when at last we admit we have limits, God begins to work his miracles in our lives. Where wisdom ends, God begins.
Have you hit the bottom yet? Is your life so out of control you are ready for God to take over? Let go and let God. It is so easy to do nothing/it is so hard to do nothing…
Death meets hope! our way vs. God’s way… the Bible says Jesus went to a town called Nain, with his disciples and a large crowd…” (Luke 7:11). The crowd then comes upon a funeral march, a widow and her dead son, and at the end of Luke 7:12 it says, “a large crowd from the town was with her.” Crowd vs. crowd! This is like the Seahawks vs. the 49ers, a contest of two crowds, the one is weeping and facing death, the others is joyful and full of hope. Death meets hope ~ hope wins every time.
Any loss/disappointment, is a kind of death. We have expectations for how our lives will unfold. When we come up short there is disappointment. Death is the ultimate loss. Faith is to trust God to orchestrate our lives, bringing order out of chaos. The original creation of the earth, of humanity, is not only a literal truth of how the earth, the animals and humans came to be, but creation also tells us something important about the character of God ~ God is a God of order, he takes what is confusing and makes sense of our world. It’s all God, only God can raise the dead, only God can restore broken relationships, only God can penetrate the heart of the sinner. I cannot tell you how many people and situations frustrate me to no end, and at the end of the day, all I can do is say Lord, I cannot do anything, they are yours ~ easy to say, but when you love the people and see them making really stupid decisions and you desperately want something better, but you have no control…. Only God can raise the dead. Only God can change my heart! Faith is to completely accept your limits and let God be God.
The widow, in addition to the grief of death, has now lost her son, her only son the Bible makes a point of saying in Luke 7:12, her means of support, her world pulled out from under her feet. Only God can raise the dead!
The Compassion of Jesus. NLT of Luke 7:13: “When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry,’ he said.” Faith works because Jesus is compassionate. I love this definition of compassion (Frederick Buechner): “Compassion is the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin. It is the knowledge that there can never really be any peace and joy for me until there is peace and joy finally for you, too.”
The compassion of Jesus means he is fully aware of what’s going on in my life, in my mind. The compassion of Jesus is what makes faith work. Like the father that is looking out for the best interest of his children. Jesus compassion is amazing, life transforming, the sometimes fatal capacity for feeling what it’s like to live inside somebody else’s skin ~ and Jesus demonstrated his compassion when he went to the cross and died for our sins, while we are helpless, sinners, undeserving of God’s love, yet the Lord Jesus Christ is compassionate, the very essence of his nature….
Jesus was moved to action because he could sense the widow’s pain, her despair, her loneliness, and her utter hopelessness. Jesus was moved to compassion because of his great love. Faith works because of Jesus Compassion.
The Power of Jesus. The Jesus went and touched the coffin, “Young man, I say to you arise.” And the dead man sat up and began to speak. Faith works because Jesus is all powerful. He is able to raise the dead, he has the power, he has all authority…
If your car is broken down on the side of the road I, Carl Crouse, may have all the compassion in the world for you, I will even try to stop and comfort you, but don’t put your faith in me to be able to fix the car. Realistically you can only put limited faith in any human, because I am not able to be everywhere or do all things, I cannot get fully inside your mind to know what you are thinking. Faith works because God is able. Eph. 3:20-21 says, “Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.”
Faith works because Jesus desires wholeness for us. He wants the broken heart to be mended. He wants life to flourish. The widow did not even ask Jesus for a miracle. There is not any indication she exhibited faith. Jesus was moved to action because of his love, because he understood the brokenness, because he could see the utter despair of this woman. So he acted.
Because Jesus is the suffering Messiah, because he was a victim on the cross, because he suffered and experienced pain and all the sinfulness of creation on the cross, he knows and can feel with us. He can feel all the brokenness, all the chaos, all the confusion, and all the despair in our lives.
The diamond of faith, the story of the raising of the son of the widow is one angle of faith demonstrating that it is all God. Our response is to do nothing but be aware of God’s desire for wholeness, God’s ability to do anything, God’s great compassion through Jesus Christ. Do not go to God demanding a certain answer, but simply believe God is able and has compassion to do anything HE DESIRES. The Lord Jesus Christ will meet you at your most broken moments. It’s all God. Where my wisdom ends, God begins. When I no longer have any ability left, let go and let God. When death meets hope, hope will always win.
Jesus can reach into our lives with his hand of compassion as he did to that widow at Nain because his heart still aches, his heart still longs, his heart still feels the pain, the heartache, the utter helplessness of his children. Because Jesus suffered, because he experienced what we have experienced, his heart can reach to us as one who knows and as one who has been there. And he is able to change the heart, work a miracle, whatever it is he desires to do. The quotation in the bulletin today makes so much sense to me: “Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want. It is the belief that God will do what is right” (Max Lucado).
When we are in the middle of grief and despair, we want a Savior who will come and be with us. The fact that Jesus was there with the widow was perhaps as important as anything else. Jesus being with us is all that is required. Whatever he does, however he chooses to bring us peace is up to him. It’s all God. Even his presence is more than we deserve. A presence. A closing story speaks about this presence.
An elderly man sat on a park bench one afternoon late in the fall. The air was cold, but he had been shopping on foot for 2 hours, ached, he needed to put down his parcels and rest a little before heading for home. He was never prone to feel sorry for himself, but he felt loneliness in the cold bursts of wind and the thoughts of returning to his now empty house did not excite him. He stared at his large, round hands as he worked them back and forth between his knees.
Suddenly a smaller hand, pink and chubby, was placed on top of his own. He jerked his head back and said, "hi-yah" in a bit of a raspy voice.
Then he got to his feet, took the child by the hand and let it gently back to his mother who stood smiling just a few paces away. "Thank you," the mother said, ’He has just learned to walk and has to race over and greet everyone."
The man smiled, nodded, then hefted his packages and started for home. The ache was gone now. So was the loneliness. Memories of a chubby hand and a grinning face warmed him. And just a few minutes before, he had no idea of how close he was to this particular experience of joy."
The presence of Christ. Where wisdom ends, God begins. Death meets hope and hope always wins! Faith works because Jesus is all compassionate, all powerful, and desires wholeness for his children. There is nothing you can do for wholeness but simply accept that it is all God. Amen